05/19/2004 11:00PM

Toasted out to validate upset score


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Toasted can prove his 25-1 upset in the La Puente Stakes last month at Santa Anita was legitimate when he reappears in Saturday's $100,000 at Hollywood Park.

The conditions of the race are similar - a mile on turf against 3-year-olds - and trainer Laura de Seroux is convinced that Toasted's recent win was not an isolated incident.

"That was no fluke," she said. "He's come back and really worked well on the course."

Toasted faces a tougher group in the Grade 3 Will Rogers than he did in the La Puente. The top candidates include Laura's Lucky Boy, the impressive winner of an allowance race on turf here on April 28; Boomzeeboom, who will be making his turf debut; and Mambo Train, who won the Turf Paradise Derby in February.

The race includes a few also-rans from the Triple Crown trail and several colts who have been pointed for turf stakes. In a way, Toasted fits in both categories. Stakes placed in France last year, Toasted made his U.S. debut with an eighth-place finish in the San Felipe Stakes on dirt at Santa Anita in March.

He reappeared in the La Puente, where he rallied from last in a field of nine under jockey G.F. Almeida to score the upset by 1 1/4 lengths.

Almeida keeps the mount on Saturday and is likely to give Toasted a similar trip from off the pace.

"The way he relaxed and switches off the first part, I don't think distance will be a problem between a mile and a mile and a quarter," de Seroux said.

Laura's Lucky Boy is making his stakes debut after consecutive wins on turf earlier this spring. In the last race, Laura's Lucky Boy led throughout, but that is not his best style, trainer Jason Orman said.

"I think he'll be better if he sits off the pace a little bit," Orman said.

Boomzeeboom finished last of 14 in the Grade 2 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on April 17, a race recognized as the final major prep for the Kentucky Derby. Unraced on turf, the speedy Boomzeeboom won a maiden race and an allowance race on dirt at Santa Anita in March.

Boomzeeboom, the expected pacesetter, impressed trainer Vladimir Cerin with the way he finished a turf workout last Sunday, even though there were a few awkward moments.

"The first quarter-mile I think he wanted to stop and eat it," Cerin said. "He finished very well. I think he'll like it."